SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — East or west; which is best?
While not every Sioux Falls resident will have a strong opinion on the question, plenty do.
“It’s kind of funny,” said Jason Bieber, a planner with the city of Sioux Falls. “If you are an east sider you are an east sider. If you are a west sider, you are a west sider.”
“And they all give each other (grief),” Bieber said.
Kevin Gansz, the curator of education for Siouxland Heritage Museums, said he’s well aware of the east versus west devotion in the city.
And within that directional devotion is devotion to neighborhoods, he said. Gansz said the Hilltop residential neighborhood is an example of neighborhood loyalty.
The Hilltop neighborhood has a Facebook account. Based on some photos from that account, there have been reunions.
“The Baby Boomers who grew up there are still very attached to it,” Gansz said of Hilltop.
There was once a West Sioux Falls, just west of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Gansz said. The area had a hardware story, drive in and other businesses.
“If you are from West Sioux that’s your neighborhood,” Gansz said.
Why an eastern or western attachment?
Realtor Kate Patrick is the secretary of the Realtor Association of the Sioux Empire. She works with home buyers who may have a distinct desire to buy and live on the east side or west side.
“I would say, family influences it a little bit,” Patrick said. “If their family lives on one side or the other.”
“If you grew up on the east side or west side, there can be a strong (desire) to stay on one side,” Patrick said.
Schools can drive a desire to live on the east or west side, Bieber said.
So can proximity to work, Patrick said.
Patrick grew up in Brookings. She’s lived on the west and east side of Sioux Falls and has noticed what she said is a “different feel” to each side.
The east side “has more rolling hills and more mature trees,” Patrick said.
And the west, developments such as Kingswood Valley, “have mature trees,” Patrick said, but it’s different from the east.
What’s east? What’s west?
To determine the east side and west side of Sioux Falls, start downtown with Phillips Avenue.
How far east or west extends depends on the year. For example, the east side of the 1960s would include the Franklin Food Market at 771 North Cliff Ave.
“Certainly the (former) School for the Deaf, that was outside of the heart of the downtown,” Gansz said of the former school on east 10th Street.
The east side of 1980 may start at 8th Street. Follow East 10th Street and the east side would come to an almost abrupt end at Frank B. Olson Pool, which was built in 1976. Just south, the east ends near Harvey Dunn Elementary School. A 1977 USGS map outlines the development of east Sioux Falls.
Sycamore Avenue could be an eastern border of sorts on the east side.
Consider where O’Gorman Catholic High School sits now at the intersection of 41st Street and Kiwanis Avenue. When it opened in September of 1961, the high school sat on a 40-acre site in the middle of an alfalfa field in the southwestern edge of Sioux Falls, according to the high school’s website.
A 1977 USGS map of the west side of Sioux Falls shows little development beyond O’Gorman High School.
In 2021, most would agree that the eastern border of Sioux Falls ends at Veterans Parkway. The western border, for the most part, ends at Ellis Road.
The map below shows some of the main spots that could be considered east and west borders in Sioux Falls.
There are subdivisions beyond those two roads but some are outside of city limits or have limited construction so far.
The city doesn’t pay favorites
Although the pace of commercial and residential development has varied from east and west, it’s not because the city of Sioux Falls is commanding the development.
Development needs one key ingredient: The ability to flush a toilet.
“Sewer availability is (key),” Bieber said. Development can’t happen unless there is access to the city’s sewer system infrastructure, Bieber said.
“That’s why you don’t see development at 85th (beyond what exists now),” Bieber said.
The city would likely need to install a lift station to make sure the city’s sanitary sewer system could handle any development in that area, Bieber said.
The city does have regular communication with developers about areas likely to be developed for commercial or residential use, Bieber said. But again, those areas need to have access to infrastructure, he said.
The city has also annexed land into the city over the years but the majority of those are initiated by the property owner, Bieber said.
It’s best to annex land when the land owner wants it annexed rather than forcing an annexation, Bieber said.
“We’re always annexing land,” he said. “We don’t want to annex anything we can’t service.”
Getting from east to west
It could be one of the reasons people have a favorite east or west side is because there doesn’t appear to be many, or even any, easy and quick routes to get from one side to the other.
“It’s a struggle,” Bieber said.
Main routes such as 41st Street or 11th and 10th to the east along with 12th in the west are often busy, he said.
And 26th Street doesn’t fully go from east to west because it is stopped by a golf course.
“That is one of the things that hurt us,” Bieber said of east to west access roads.
Now, collector streets such as 57th Street that are used on the east and west side are better prepped for traffic because the city buys right of way, Bieber said.
An original 80 feet of right of way allowed for additional turn lanes or travel lanes, Bieber said.
“With any new collector street, we are requiring more right of way,” Bieber said.
When did the city go west or east?
A Phillips Avenue anchor saw the benefits of expanding east and west. Lewis Drug had locations on Phillips Avenue and Minnesota Avenue before it added a location near 12th and Kiwanis in 1967. According to the Lewis Drug website, the east location at east 10th Street and Cliff Avenue was added in 1974.
In 1967, the intersection of 12th Street and Kiwanis Avenue was in west Sioux Falls. The Great Plains Zoo was just south of the intersection. It was built in 1963.
The zoo and 12th and Kiwanis Avenue were on the western edge of Sioux Falls for years.
Lewis Drug is still at east 10th Street and Cliff Avenue, which was an eastern edge of sorts for many years.
Think of east Sioux Falls of 30 to 40 years ago and the former South Dakota School for the Deaf may come up or Austad’s Golf.
“Another big thing on the east side is the viaducts,” Gansz said. Nelson Field, where Drake Springs is now, is at East 10th and Cliff Avenue near a viaduct.
Think of west Sioux Falls of 30 to 40 years and some will mention I-29, the former Westward Ho Golf Course along with the Western Mall and Empire Mall.
“When I first came to Sioux Falls in 1965, 41st Street (in the west) was a gravel road,” said Bill Hoskins, the museum director for Siouxland Heritage Museums.
“I remember when they first started construction of the Western Mall. I rode the school bus and we picked up kids near there. I lived on Williams and our backyard was a cornfield,” Hoskins said.
The Western Mall opened in 1969. The Empire Mall opened in September of 1975.
The malls triggered more retail growth along 41st Street to the west from the intersection with Minnesota Avenue west to the intersection with I-29.
Housing developments boomed in the west in the late 1970s and 1980s.
A color coded map of the history of annexations in Sioux Falls shows that a big chunk of the east side was annexed from 1961 to 1975. A smaller portion of the west was annexed during those years.
But after the malls were built, areas near Dunham Park for example, were annexed into the city on the west side. The period of 1976 through 1990 were big growth years in the west.
Another spurt happened from 1991 to 2005.
The east was also developing from 1976 through 2005 but not at the pace of the west side, based on the annexation map. The big years for the east are from 2005 on.
2005 on for the west and the east
Hoskins said he remember when he thought Memorial Middle School at 1401 S. Sertoma St. on the west side of Sioux Falls was surrounded by fields.
Today, a convenience store with several other businesses in the complex operate at the corner across from the school.
A housing subdivision is across the street. The Prairie West library is a few blocks west.
The University of Sioux Falls football field at the intersection of 69th Street and Cliff Avenue was also once surrounded by fields. Today, there are housing subdivisions along Cliff to the south and along 69th to the east toward Southeastern Avenue.
Follow 26th Street from the east to the west or the west to the east.
Rosa Parks Elementary School sits at the eastern edge of Sioux Falls on 26th Street. Just south of the school park and playground, ground is being moved for another development project. Equipment is moving dirt for another development to the east.
A housing subdivision sits on the western end of 26th Street. The immediate area also includes a church. Just west, there is a farm field.
So you shop and eat here, and I shop and eat there.
Back when Patrick was still a teenager living in Brookings, she and lots of others shopped on the west side of Sioux Falls with its mall and other big-box retailers.
The east and west shopping options have changed since those days.
And in some ways, east and west have traded baskets like basketball teams when it comes to dining and shopping options.
The west side had a Target long before the east side. But the east side got a Target in the early 2000s.
The Dawley Farm Village opened on the east side along Veterans Parkway. The commercial development includes a Kohl’s, Target and other shops.
It’s another notch in the dining and retail options that have boomed on the east side for the past 15 to 20 years.
The west side got its Menards, Wal-Mart and then Lake Lorraine opened with several major retailers in its location across I-29 to the west just off 26th Street.
Patrick said when it comes to restaurants and shopping, people will ask “Why don’t we get X? I’d really love another restaurant in this area.”
Patrick said it’s timing. “Things will develop when they need to,” she said.
The east and west already have some of the same options such as Lewis Drug, Nyberg’s Ace, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Wal-Mart and others.
Non-chain restaurants have also entered the east and west side markets.
Recent businesses to join the east and west locations include Keg Chicken, Milky Way and the Attic.
Wait, what schools do your kids go to?
Remember when Roosevelt High School sat on the western edge of Sioux Falls on 41st Street?
In the fall of 2022, some students who attended Roosevelt in 2021 will attend a new high school in Thomas Jefferson, to the north of Roosevelt.
Students who live near Ellis Road in western Sioux Falls may attend school in Sioux Falls or they may live in the Tea School District.
High School students on the east side may attend Lincoln High School or Washington High School. Others may be Harrisburg High School students because that’s where their residence is.
Others may be attending Brandon High School.
Only a few miles separate a new Brandon elementary school from a Sioux Falls elementary school.
When it comes to elections, a voter in Sioux Falls could vote for Sioux Falls City Council member, a Lincoln County Commissioner and Harrisburg School Board member.
If the voter lives on the west side, they could be voting for a Sioux Falls Council member, a Minnehaha County Commissioner and a Tea School Board member.